“I was 19 when the TSA started using full body scanners in 2010. I found myself suddenly under their microscope. Until then I had gone through with relative ease – though my suitcase was often searched because of my mom’s import business – because as an East Asian U.S. citizen I didn’t fit the profile of a terrorist. Now, for some reason I could never pass by their scanners, always being subjected to invasive pat-downs and searches, having officers reach into my pants and up into my shirt and even up into my binder, walking through the same scanner multiple times and holding everyone else up in line.
It wasn’t until I was 21 and on my way to an interview that I realized what was going on. The TSA agent made me walk through the scanner 3 times, as she got more and more confused. She called over another TSA agent, and they were discussing how there must be a bug in the system. She had me walk through it again, and when she asked me to go through it a fifth time I said no, I didn’t get why. At that point she realized what it was – she had been pressing the blue button for Male the whole time.
I identify as gender non-conforming and masculine of center, and was assigned female at birth, so to her I appeared male. The scanner kept signaling about my breasts in two evenly spaced yellow boxes. When she heard my high pitched voice, she started apologizing. I realized that every time I had ever failed the TSA checkpoints was because of arbitrary decisions that TSA agents made about my gender identity and the way body scanners were set up. TSA didn’t keep me safe, it just humiliated me for the last 6 years.
That’s why I believe we need to #RedefineSecurity and #StopProfilingImmigrants.”